APG civilians attend CES Advanced Course

Course focuses on senior leadership skills, Army strategic issues

(From left) Scott Newman and the Matt Cannon, of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, work with teammates to complete a puzzle during a critical thinking exercise July 18. The activity is part of the the four-week Civilian Education System Advanced Course held through Aug. 17 in the Mallette Training Facility at APG North (Aberdeen). |U.S. Army photo by Rachel Ponder, APG News

Team APG is hosting a four-week Civilian Education System, or CES, Advanced Course, in partnership with the Army Management Staff College, or AMSC, for 72 Army civilians in the Mallette Training Facility at APG North (Aberdeen). The course is for Army civilians ranked GS-13 to GS-15 or equivalent experience.

“This leadership development course is the highest level course in CES,” said Human Resource Specialist Gordon Malone, with the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command. “It’s a high-need course here on APG, because we have so many GS-13s and above.”

Malone added that civilians enrolled in the course will learn and develop senior leadership skills and critical thinking, as well as communication and decision-making strategies. The course also focuses on national security and Army strategic issues.

Eight instructors from the AMSC in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, are teaching the course, and form the mobile education team, or MET. These teams regularly travel to Army installations with large civilian populations. Coursework includes team-building and writing exercises, presentations and culminates in a capstone project. Throughout the course, the students receive feedback from students, instructors, APG senior leaders and members of the Senior Executive Service.

“A lot of them [the students] just see Aberdeen Proving Ground, but there is so much more to the Army,” said AMSC Instructor Kirk Foster.

Puzzle challenge

Throughout the course, civilians are grouped into teams. On July 18, the second day of the course, 15 students were challenged to assemble a wooden puzzle in less than 60 seconds, and were given an hour to complete this task. During the exercise, three students served as observers, making note of the team’s strengths and weaknesses, as the team developed strategies to complete the puzzle efficiently.

“They can do it numerous times to improve their time,” Foster said.“ What we are working on here is interpersonal skills and team building. This is a new team, they have only been together for a day and a half. So they are learning each other, [who are] the leaders, [who are] the followers, communicating all the skills you need for a high performance team.”

Pam Holsopple, of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, provides feedback as an evaluator during a critical thinking puzzle exercise July 18. Holsopple is a student in the four-week Civilian Education System Advanced Course being held in the Mallette Training Facility at APG North (Aberdeen). |U.S. Army photo by Rachel Ponder, APG News

Foster added that the MET encourages students to think creatively and work as a team. After practicing for 50 minutes the students were finally able to complete the puzzle within the time limit, completing it under time, in just 38 seconds. AMSC believes students learn best by doing, Foster said, so the CES Advanced Course involves many “hands-on” activities and small group discussion.

Course instructor Lt. Col. C M Dyer III, with AMSC, called the four-week course “a good foundation.”

“In order to develop properly [as leaders] you need to have some sort of guidance and direction,” he said.

Student reactions

Meghan Dodge, with ATEC’s Army Evaluation Center, said she hopes to learn more about leadership style.

“I would like to network, meet new people, get out of my comfort zone,” she said. “It’s been a great experience so far.”

Scott Newman, with the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, said he hopes to identify his strengths and weaknesses.

“Hopefully I can fix some of the weaknesses and network with other people from other organizations, so we can collaborate better in the future.”

The CES Advanced Course will conclude with a graduation ceremony in the Mallette Auditorium, set for 10 to 11 a.m., Aug. 17.

For additional information about the AMSC, or to view the application process for online courses, visit http://usacac.army.mil/organizations/cace/am sc.


Story by Rachel Ponder, APG News